We live in such a fast paced world these days that insomnia has become a regular problem for many of us. I’ve suffered with it in one way or another since I was a teenager, mostly because I have a habit of worrying about things and bringing home my issues from work or school with me.
While stress is one of the leading reasons that you may be suffering from insomnia, there are also other health related physical ailments which if left untreated can cause insomnia. For example, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. So, if you think your insomnia may be caused by other factors than simple stress a trip to your General Practitioner may be in order.
If you have ruled out physical ailments as being the cause of your insomnia or have taken care of having the ailments treated, or your insomnia is stress related there are several things you can do to help induce a good nights sleep. Keep in mind that it takes a while to train the brain in good sleep habits so it may be several days or weeks before you see any results from some of these natural cures for insomnia. Since they are mostly related to establishing good sleeping habits this should make sense.
That being said, here are some natural cures for insomnia that you can try. While you don’t have to do every single one, this list is long so that you can try out the ones that appeal to you. If one doesn’t work for you then you have the option of trying another until you find the formula that works best for you.
1. Go to bed around the same time every night. Going to bed at a different time every night throws off the body’s natural rhythms and will make it more difficult for you to go to sleep at night.
2. Give yourself time to unwind before going to bed. Doing late night work, or trying to get caught up on something that you’ve been putting off for a while are not good activities to try and complete before bed particularly if said activities are stressors for you. So, put away work and anything else that makes you feel stressed and give yourself at least an hour before bed to just begin to relax so you can sleep.
3. If you practice yoga try doing thirty minutes or so worth before going to bed to help your body begin to relax. Yoga is a powerful tool to beat insomnia and I have used it over and over when I could not get to sleep and have found it to be very effective. Yoga is great because it forces you to focus on the pose and your breathing rather than what I call monkey mind, where your thoughts are racing from one thing to another and your mind will not quiet down.
Even if you don’t practice yoga, there are many DVD’s available that you can check out from your local library, rent from the video store or purchase second hand that you can use to begin teaching yourself yoga. You don’t have to take an expensive class to learn how to use yoga to your benefit.
4. There are several herbs which are wonderful for helping to induce sleep. One that you’ve probably heard of is Chamomile, and drinking a cup before bed can help you to relax and go to sleep. However, if you suffer from allergies Chamomile is not recommended. Another herb that is great for helping with insomnia is Valerian. In order to benefit from Valerian, pour boiling water over two teaspoons of dried valerian root in your tea cup, then let it sit for 15 minutes. Drink it just before going to bed. It doesn’t taste very good, but it is very effective.
5. Don’t eat a lot at night. If you must eat something before bed make sure it is something light and easy to digest because heavy foods will keep you awake while your stomach digests them.
6. Set the mood each night before going to sleep. Your bedroom should be a quiet, dark, and calm place to be. Turn off all the lights, snuggle down and maybe play some soft music in the background. Train your brain to know when it is time to go to sleep. Setting a routine for before going to bed and sticking to it will help you to fall asleep and stay asleep more easily.
7. Take a warm aromatic bath. Fill the bathtub with warm water, enough so your entire body will be covered, and then add a drop of an essential oil which helps to promote relaxation such as lavender. Turn off the lights, light a few candles and play some soft music. Then soak for twenty minutes before going to bed. Note: Some people are very sensitive to essential oils so test a bit on your skin first the day before before putting it in your bath water. Also, if you are pregnant consult your physician before taking a bath with essential oils.
8. Avoid coffee, colas and other drinks containing caffeine after 3:00 pm because having these in your system will exacerbate your insomnia. If possible cut caffeine out of your diet all together because it doesn’t just make your insomnia worse but if you are someone who suffers from anxiety it can exacerbate that as well.
9. If you are someone who is sensitive to essential oils or is pregnant and cannot take a warm aromatic bath (although you could still take a warm bath without the scent!) you can still use aromatherapy to help you sleep. You could purchase or make an eye pillow with lavender to lay over your eyes or slip underneath your pillowcase. You will still get the therapeutic aroma of lavender to help you sleep without having the oil on your skin. You can also add a drop or two to a clean spray bottle full of water and spray some in your bedroom before going to sleep. Again you can avoid getting much of the oil on your skin this way, but still benefit from the scent of lavender.
10. Another great trick to help you fall asleep at night and this should be the last thing you do before dropping off is to concentrate on your breathing. Good breathing is when you are breathing from your diaphragm not your chest. So you want to pull the air in through your nose and feel your stomach area rise, not your chest. If your chest is moving then you are breathing shallowly and this is a sign you are feeling stressed. Work on pulling the air deeply into your lungs and filling them completely before letting the air go again. If you have stressful thoughts just let them go and return your concentration to your breathing. Just concentrate on the rhythm of your in and out breaths and before you know you it you will have dropped off into sleep.
We all suffer from insomnia at one time or another but that doesn’t mean the cycle of bad sleep nights has to continue indefinitely. Establishing a before bed routine and trying some of these natural cures for insomnia should help you to establish new before bed habits and get you the rest you both need and deserve.